TAMIL NADU

AIEMA signs MoU with Sri Lanka Chamber

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING: K.P. Shashidar Rao, president, AIEMA (third from left), exchanging the document with Aloy R. Jayawardene, president, Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry of Colombo ( second from left), in Chennai on Thursday. Dilip Kumbhat, chairman, ATC (left) and H.M.B. Herath, Sri Lanka Minister Counsellor look on. Photo: K. Pichumani  



Special Correspondent

`Over 17 per cent of Sri Lanka's imports are from India' ``Over 17 per cent of Sri Lanka's imports are from India''

CHENNAI: A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) will be finalised and signed this year, said the president of Sri Lanka Chamber of Small Industry of Colombo, Aloy R. Jayawardene.

Addressing the Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers' Association (AIEMA), Mr. Jayawardene said the objective of the CEPA was to further enhance the existing economic linkages between India and Sri Lanka through liberalisation of trade in merchandise, services, investment and promotion of economic cooperation.

An MoU was signed by Mr. Jayawardene with K.P. Shashidar Rao, president of the Ambattur Industrial Estate Manufacturers' Association (AIEMA) and Dilip Kumbhat, chairman of the AIEMA Technology Centre (ATC).

In Sri Lanka, he said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have been identified as an important strategic sector for promoting growth and social development. It has also gained wide recognition as a major source of employment, income generation, poverty alleviation and regional development. Last month, Sri Lanka Parliament unanimously passed the Bill for the establishment of the SME Development Authority. "This Authority will be a supreme body to cut across administrative and financial barriers and deliver national strategies for SME development," Mr. Jayawardene said.

He said the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries had played a key role in re-shaping the Indo-Sri Lanka trade and investment relations. In 2005, the two-way trade had reached $ 2 billion and India has emerged as the third largest exporter to Sri Lanka. H.M.B. Herath, Sri Lanka Minister Counsellor, hoped that with increased air connectivity between Sri Lanka and Chennai (South India), there was greater scope for furthering the trade relations.

Describing it as a red letter day for the AIEMA, Mr. Shashidar Rao said he was confident that the MoU would go a long way in not only cementing the friendly bilateral ties with the island nation, but also boost trade between India and Sri Lanka. Mr. Dilip Kumbhat, chairman of the ATC, hoped that the MoU would be a path breaking one.